Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Celebrating Cal, Jr.
As well detailed in The Nats320 Blog, Former Slugger Frank Howard is My Favorite Player of All Time. In fact, "HONDO" was and will always be My IDOL. But, Cal Ripken, Jr. is The Most Beloved Player of My Adult Life. As fine of a player as he was on the field--he was even GREATER off of it. That's What Makes Cal, Jr. So Special. There has been no better ROLE MODEL for fans to follow and adore then Cal Ripken, Jr.--NONE. No One Is Close.
Not one single player over the past Quarter Century is more appreciated than Baltimore's Number 8. Many have said, Ripken saved Baseball in the Mid-90's, when he passed one of baseball's most cherished records--Lou Gehrig's Consecutive Games Streak of 2130. One Year after an Owner Lockout that could have KILLED THE GREAT GAME. And, at a time many baseball players ignored their fans--Cal Ripken, Jr stood on the side of the field and signed autographs for ANYONE THAT WANTED A BRIEF MOMENT WITH HIM.
That's Class--that's understanding your roots. And proves, that Baltimore's FINEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME is well grounded in, not only the skills of baseball, but more importantly, but the aptitude of life. I hold Cal Ripken, Jr in HIGH ESTEEM. Not many have struck me in such a way.
For some time now--I wanted to attend Cal Ripken's Official Sendoff to his Hall of Fame Induction in Cooperstown this weekend. The African Queen and I were well aware that Tuesday Night, July 24th, The Baltimore Orioles were going to have a special celebration. Badly, I wanted to go. But, when you work on a Network Television Newscast that ends at 6PM EDT--you can bet there was LITTLE CHANCE of making the event.
Then again--sometimes you get lucky.
Out of nowhere, My Washington Bureau Chief decided to cover Cal's Sendoff at Camden Yards Tonight. Quickly, arrangements were made. Thankfully, The Baltimore Orioles Media Relations Staff were very accommodating. And, was it EVER WORTHWHILE.
Cal Ripken, Jr and his lovely Wife, Kelly were just terrific--Self Deprecating in their Media Interviews--pleasant and fun. When it comes to Life--both get it. Always introspective of the fortunate turns in their lives. And, well versed in the parenting of two, now well rounded teenagers--Rachel & Ryan. Both kids now "realizing for the very first time"--the importance of their beloved Father. Cal talked about this at length tonight in The Press Conference.
Honestly, I was proud to be able to attend. And, when Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Robin Roberts and Eddie Murray (Four of Baltimore's GREATEST--All Hall of Famers) were kind enough to speak with us for our story--My Correspondent and I really understood HOW MUCH CAL RIPKEN, JR. IS LOVED--AS A PERSON.
Tuesday Night, July 24th was a SPECIAL NIGHT. Appreciative I was to attend. Briefly, I got the distinctive opportunity to speak with Cal and his Wife, Kelly--and meet 4 additional Hall of Famers.
Yeah, I know--Our Washington Nationals played tonight in Philadelphia and lost, 4-3. But, for one night, THIS NIGHT--It was FAR MORE IMPORTANT to Celebrate A MOST BELOVED PLAYER--Cal Ripken, Jr. I could never say enough good things about him--too many adjectives describe him.
Simply--Cal Ripken, Jr Understands Life. Number 8 is a Winner Forever!!
Congratulations Cal!! for your Induction into The Baseball Hall of Fame. No One is More Deserving.
PS--While leaning against the railing at the top of The Orioles Dugout--waiting for our interview opportunities--tonight's opponent--Tampa Bay was emerging from The Baltimore (Yes, that's right Orioles) Dugout. There was no ON FIELD Batting Practice due to the Celebration--so The Devil Rays were hitting under the first base stands in The Orioles Batting Cages. As I turned to watch them walk up and onto the field--I found myself face to face with Former Nationals Josh Wilson and Brendan Harris. Wilson looked straight at me, and stopped. "I know you?" he questioned. I responded "Yes, I talked with you and Michael Restovich last February during the first week of Nats Spring Training and wrote about it." Josh knowingly smiled: "Yes, you were the blogger that did all the coverage that week." Boy, was I ever STUNNED he remembered. Josh Wilson went on to introduce me to Brendan Harris--and I had to explain to them--Television News is my occupation. The Nats320 Blog is my hobby.
They both laughed--"Now I understand a little better," Wilson exclaimed. That was the gist of the encounter--but as they were about to continue on their way back to the third base dugout, I asked: "How do you two compare Tampa Bay to Washington?" Both responded, almost in unison: "Its an opportunity. We are getting a chance to play. That's all we ever wanted." With that, Josh Wilson and Brendon Harris went on their way. Leaving me chuckling over it all. One of those little unexpected moments, I will always remember.
And NO!! I did not wear a Nationals Cap to Camden Yards. There was too much respect to be shown there this evening.
Tomorrow--I promise to return to writing about Our Washington Nationals. There was just no way I was passing on Cal Ripken, Jr. tonight. NO WAY!!
Finally, The 2131 Cal Ripken Bobblehead given to 25,000 Fans & The Media is pretty good too!!